Just like machines need to be oiled regularly for smooth uninterrupted functioning, massage is the way to soothe our body and mind through movements on our largest organ, i.e. the skin. Massages are great, provided you get one that meets your requirements and preference. There are various kinds of massage such as- Swedish massage, Hot stone massage, Aromatherapy massage, Deep tissue massage, Sports massage etc.
What is Ayurvedic massage?
Ayurveda was founded in India 3000 years ago and is being used by people globally even today. The term “Ayurveda” means “science of life” and is a traditional system of medicine and has proved to be effective against most problems. The medications made are almost always purely natural and have no chemical content in them. This factor is attractive to its users. Ayurvedic massage, also known as Abhyanga, is done using oil or ghee and mixing medicated ayurvedic body oil to help relax the muscles of the body. They are used for rejuvenation purposes.
Purpose of Ayurvedic Body Massage:
Ayurvedic massage is said to be more beneficial than normal massages. This massage makes use of essential oils heavily and targets specific energy points. They also smell pretty different from other massages. Most of the job in this massage is done by the essential oils and not a lot of actual massage movements take place. It is the aroma and effect of the oil used which helps in manipulating your energy fields and getting rid of the emotional burden.
- They have sensory effects:
Ayurvedic massages are performed by professionals who have an acute awareness of the marmas and chakras. Marmas are vital pressure points, like acupressure points and are spread all around on various junctions such as flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones and joints. Chakras are concentrated energy centres in our body. There are seven major chakras in a human body located over the main endocrine glands and if a chakra is blocked or isn’t functioning properly, an illness may develop in that body part. Ayurvedic massages help clear these blockages.
- They also have mechanical effects:
Ayurvedic massage also helps in the smooth functioning of muscles and joints, eliminates stiffness and increases blood circulation in the body. Due to the warmth provided by essential oils, the muscle temperature increases, therefore, leading to the development of new arteries in the body and healing muscles.
- Therapeutic benefits:
It also helps in better parasympathetic activities as the message often results in maximum relaxation of the body and mind. This, in turn, helps in improving sleeping patterns. As the nervous system is relaxed, the person also starts becoming positive and energetic. It helps keep the effects of daily stress and pressure at bay.
- Improves skin health:
According to Ayurveda practitioners, using oils in massage can help nourish the skin and improve the overall health of the skin. It also works for lessening the appearance of wrinkle, makes the skin soft and smooth and even prevents hyperpigmentation of the skin.
some other benefits of Abhyanga are:
- Improve vision
- Increase energy and alertness
- Increase physical strength
- Delay age-related changes
- Tone and vigor for the body’s tissues
Types of Ayurvedic Messages:
There are various kinds of massage techniques which focus on different points and therefore have specific purposes. These are few popularly known kinds of Ayurvedic massages.
- Marma Massage: this massage strengthens the functionality of the brain, makes the body calm and helps improve the blood circulation.
- Padabhyanga Massage: it is a traditional foot massage done using oils. It has high relaxation power and helps in curing headaches, eliminating insomnia and promotes peaceful sleeping.
- Srotabhyanga Massage: a perfect treatment to reactivate metabolism and also focuses on legs. It is recommended for people suffering from issues regarding water retention, circulatory problems, tiredness and excess of toxins in the body.
- Champi Massage: best for leaving stress and headaches. Also helps regulate blood circulation in the head and promotes hair growth.
Various oils are specifically used for ayurvedic massages. Here are some of them:
- Coconut oil,
- Safflower oil,
- Castor oil,
- Mustard oil
- Neem oil.
- Sweet almond oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Avocado oil
Why are oils used for ayurvedic massage?
Oils are an essential part of an ayurvedic massage. In the world of Ayurveda, Sneha is a type of lubrication system for the body. Sneha is driven from the Sanskrit word ‘snih’ which means ‘ affection’. Different kinds of oils and ghee fall under the category of Sneha. They aim at pacifying Vata. It is the energy of movement and the force governing all biological activity. Ayurvedic massages are incomplete without the use of the right kind of oil as the usage of it helps in mitigating Vata. Here are some of the properties due to which Sneha is a crucial part of ayurvedic massages:
- They are slimy, hence helps maintain the structure at the molecular level and strengthens the body.
- They are liquidy in texture, therefore, they spread easily without having to put in too much effort.
- They are soft and help in relaxing the stiffness of the body.
- They are unctuous, ie. excessively flattering or ingratiating which helps in thorough nourishment of the body.
While massages are essential for the smooth functioning of our bodies and everyone should get them whenever they feel stress taking over their bodies, they are also pretty expensive. This becomes one of the major reasons why people don’t look forward to it. However, the beauty of Ayurvedic massage is that one can do it on themselves if they have knowledge of pressure points and know the right technique. Here is a step by step guide to doing self massage if you want to save a couple of bucks:
- Choose your oil for massage. While doing so remember to do your research and check which oil works best for what. To prep
- Prepare your oil. To do so, you need to warm the oil. Make sure you don’t burn yourself or the oil as they are extremely flammable in nature. If you are scared of heating the oil directly, place it in a bowl of warm water. Let the heat of the water warm up the oil. Remember the oil needs to be warm and not burning hot. It can burn your body.
- Prepare your surroundings- Dim the lights, play some soothing music, Mute your social media. Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed.
- Remove your clothes and start applying the oil on your body. Gently apply the warm oil all over your body. Move your hand in regular motions. Start from the top of your head and face, then gradually move down the neck.
- Massage your arms, chest and stomach in broad, circular and clockwise motion.
- Thoroughly massage your legs and feet. Feet have nerve endings and can solely help you relax.
- Take your time with it. Self massage is the most effective self care technique. When doing so, remember to have time in your hand. the main motive of this massage is to calm your body and mind. If you are in a rush, the motive will be defeated.
- Let the oil soak for 15 minutes.
- Take a bath right after.
Points to remember while self massaging:
- Do a patch test before going all in with the oil. Even though natural, different oils react differently on everyone’s skin. Wait for a couple of minutes to see if you are having any negative reactions to the oil. This will also prevent your body from burning if the oil is too hot. Not all parts of your body have the same skin. Skin in some areas is thicker than in others.
- Be careful when washing off the oil. By now your body is lathered in essential oils. Be careful when taking a bath. Best is to place a mat on the surface to avoid any unfortunate accident.
Do not massage after eating. The best time to massage is before your morning shower and breakfast. Massaging after having a meal can cause discomfort and even make you feel nauseous.